Muslim schools: 2019 GCSE and equivalent exam results


© Confirmed the results to The Muslim News | * Result or info corrected by the school | B Boys | G Girls | M Mixed.


Independent (IND) school is not maintained by a local authority and does not have academy status. Governance arrangements vary, but such a school will always have a registered proprietor. It usually raises its income through charging fees to parents, but may also receive state funding through local authorities.

Voluntary-aided (VA) schools are local-authority-maintained schools and often, have a religious character. They are eligible for capital funding grants. VA schools are paid on a similar basis to other categories of school, but the governing body must usually pay at least 10% of the costs of capital work.

Free schools maintained (FSM) are funded by the government but are not run by the local authority. They have more operational control. They’re ‘all-ability’ schools, so cannot use academic selection processes like a grammar school. National curriculum optional.


The admissions policy is that pupils are not selected (NSEL) on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude, in contrast to the selective (SEL) school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of selection criteria. Criteria may include the distance from the pupil’s home to school and whether a sibling is already at the school. Not recorded (NR).


EBacc qualifications in English, Maths, Sciences, a language and either History or Geography. The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is not a test or qualification; it is a measure used to provide information about a particular range of qualifications. The EBacc APS calculates a pupil’s average point scores across the 5 pillars of the English Baccalaureate, allocating points to a pupil’s best grades and dividing by 6 (the science grades count in 2 pillars, meaning a total of 6 pillars) to create an average point score per pupil. This measure is an average across the subjects (i.e. we divide the total by 6) and so is on a different scale to Attainment 8 which we calculated by awarding points score across 8 qualifications (without dividing the total).


Schools get a score based on how well pupils have performed in up to 8 qualifications, which include English, Maths, 3 English Baccalaureate qualifications including Sciences, Computer Science, History, Geography and Languages, and 3 other additional approved qualifications.


This indicates the percentage of pupils who achieved grade 5 or above. Reformed GCSEs are graded 1 (low) to 9 (high). Grade 5 is a similar level of achievement to a high grade C or low grade B in the old grading.


Grade 4 or above in the new grading is a similar level of achievement to a grade C or above in the old grading.

Note: the Dept of Education suppressed the results of Ghausia Girls High School (Lancashire) and Al-Madani Girls School (Slough), results are suppressed when there are 5 or fewer pupils. Al-Hijrah School (Birmingham) closed last August and is now The Olive School, an academy.

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Mosques suspend congregational activities in the fight against coronavirus

Photo: Officials, wearing protective suits, disinfect the mosques as part of precautions against Covid-19 , on March 18 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  (Credit: Samır Jordamovıc/Anadolu Agency)

Harun Nasrullah

The Muslim News surveyed over 700 mosques and Islamic centres across the UK on March 12, on what steps they are taking to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). The result was mixed.

The majority of mosques took a lead to excuse all seniors and worshippers with chronic illnesses not to attend congregational prayers before the Government issued similar advice. While others stopped all congregational prayers, including Jum’ah (Friday) prayers and closed Qur’an classes for children. Those who normally hold extracurricular activities like sport were also closed. Some continue to hold congregational prayers but place restrictions on that worshippers should do Wuḍūʾ [ablution] at home. All showed concern about the spread of Coronavirus. While some voiced frustration at the lack of guidance from central and local government.

A week later after our survey, mosques across the UK were advised to suspend all congregational services including the Jum’ah prayers to protect worshippers from Covid-19 pandemic which has (as of March 20) killed 144 people in the country.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which has over 500 member mosques, issued the suspension recommendation on March 16, following the latest advice on the virus. MCB Secretary-General, Harun Khan, said it is “imperative” that the “extraordinary step” is taken to ensure the safety of communities.

The advice to suspend congregational prayers was echoed by the many of the Council for Mosques bodies who also called for mosques to perform funeral prayers at the cemetery.

The unprecedented step comes after Public Health England advice of stopping “non-essential contact” with others and the Chief Scientific Advisers told the public to avoid gatherings “big or small.”

The advice came a day after news broke that two congregants from Edinburgh Blackhall Mosque and Annandale Mosque (also in Edinburgh) tested positive for Covid-19.

A message by Edinburgh Blackhall Mosque Facebook page reads: ‘We would like to inform you we have had our 1st case of the Coronavirus. The member has been asked by doctors to self isolate at home.’

‘Edinburgh Blackhall Mosque is now closed to the public until further notice. This decision has been taken to allow premises to be disinfected.’ It came as another person at the Annandale Mosque in the city’s Leith area was said to have returned a positive Covid-19 test, although this has not been confirmed.

The Zia-UI-Quran Mosque Glasgow’s Facebook page posted an update: ‘Positive case of Coronavirus has been confirmed at Blackhall Mosque (Edinburgh) and another positive case from Annandale Mosque (Edinburgh). We request people of the age of 60+ and those with underlining health issues not to attend the mosque. Please make sure you bring your prayer mats and do Wuḍūʾ at home.’

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock confirmed that the Government’s new social distancing guidelines apply to places of worship. Robin Millar, Conservative MP for Aberconwy, asked the Secretary of State if he would, “offer some guidance to a large number of religious communities — churches, mosques, gurdwaras — on what constitutes a large gathering of people?” In reply, Hancock said it was with “the heaviest of heart” that religious communities are included in the guidance.

“We address that in the advice, and this is a very important point. We have taken advice on how to respond to the crisis, including from our ethics committee, which includes representatives of the major religious faiths,” he told the House of Commons.

A spokesman for MCB said, “The obligation for Friday prayers is very important to Muslims up and down the country. Given the overwhelming majority of Muslims identify with their local mosque, its centrality to communal activities should not be understated. The choice, therefore, is to suspend all congregational activities, is not one that has been taken lightly.”

In a statement to The Muslim News, Cambridge Central Mosque confirmed that the mosque will be closed until further notice from March 17, “in keeping with the Islamic principle that ‘there must be no harm and no mutual harm.”’ They added that Janāzah (funeral) prayers will continue with all “attendees to be wearing water-resistant surgical masks.”

Many of the mosques surveyed by The Muslim News had closed their Madrasahs (Islamic classes) on the day the World Health Organization labelled the outbreak a pandemic, a week before the Government announced the closure of schools in England and Wales. A few mosques had already shut down all services during our survey.

Chairman of Southerland Street Islamic Centre and the Central Mosque on Conduit Street, Mohammed Salim Malik, told The Muslim News that they had not suspended congregational prayers but had placed some restrictions on the worshippers. “We have advised people over 60 not to come to the mosque and that they should do Wuḍū at home as we have closed all wudu facilities. We are also generally not encouraging people to attend congregational prayers.”

“We cannot close the [congregational] prayers altogether,” adding that they are “monitoring to see how the situation develops” before suspending congregational prayers, including Friday prayers.

However, Malik said that they had suspended all children classes and other activities from March 20.

“Following the latest Islamic rulings (fatwa) from many reputable scholars, several Shari’ah Boards, as well as the latest UK Governmental guidance and advice from medical organisations, the undersigned mosques have taken the unprecedented and difficult move to suspend all congregational services and activities,” said a statement from 39 Sunni Mosques, headed by London Central Mosque.

Some mosque officials told The Muslim News they received little to no direct guidance from central and local government. “We did not receive any communication from the Government. All [the information] we are collecting is from media and news,” said Mohammad Kibria, Spokesman for

Essex Jamme Masjid. Maqsood Anwar of UKIM Madinah Masjid in Luton said the mosque received “hardly anything from local or central government. More advice was received from MCB and BIMA [British Islamic Medical Association], and also Luton Council of Mosques.”

A spokesman for the Belfast Islamic Centre told The Muslim News they requested specific guidance from Public Health adding that “as of March 12 we have not decided what to do. Considering restrictions, as all mosques in the Republic of Ireland (different jurisdiction) have closed, but the UK/Northern Irish guidelines have not yet stopped gatherings.”

Many Shia mosques and Islamic centres closed earlier in the month, including the Hujjat Islamic Centre in Stanmore which closed on March 3, following Covid-19 concern. In all, twenty-four Shia Islamic centres across the country closed around March 13.

On March 12, the British Board of Scholars and Imams and the Mosques and Imams National

Advisory Board issued joint interim community guidance for Covid-19 pandemic. The bodies ruled that it is wājib (obligatory) for anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 to self-isolate ‘Preventing harm, especially to others, takes precedence over attaining benefit.’

They also advised congregants to make ablution at home and bring their prayer mats. Mosques were also told to institute a regular cleaning schedule of their buildings. Pay specific attention to cleaning carpets and the entire prayer area.

Those mosques who suspended the congregational prayers assured the worshippers that it was according to Islamic law and guidance. They quoted from the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s sayings (hadith).

“And Ayyūb, when he called to his Lord, saying ‘Harm has inflicted me and You are the Most Merciful.

“So We answered him and removed his affliction, and We gave him, his family and the like of them with them, as a mercy from Us and a reminder to Worshippers.” (Qur’an, 21:83, 84)

This is in relation to Prophet Ayyūb (Job) who lost all his family, wealth and suffered a long and severe illness.

His story is synonymous with patience. This verse of the Qur’an reminds us that with patience and perseverance, one can get through difficult and challenging times as we are going through now.

Prophet Muhammad (p) responding to a follower who asked him whether to travel to a place where there was a plague, he replied: “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it.” [ Sahihs of Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Mosques around the world

Governments and religious authorities across the Muslim world have moved to suspend or limit weekly prayer gatherings to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Several Muslim majority countries suspended all congregational prayers.

Saudi Arabia banned its citizens from making pilgrimages to Makkah, having already banned foreigners from coming amid fears it was spreading the virus. Starting March 15 the Kingdom suspended international flights for two weeks, meaning the hundreds of thousands of Muslims will now cancel their planned Umrah (non-mandatory) pilgrimage.

The central courtyard of the Great Mosque of Makkah was completely closed on March 5 as workers disinfected it in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19. Photos and videos showed the area around the Ka’abah — Islam’s holiest site — deserted. On March 17 Saudi Arabia decided to suspend congregational prayers across all mosques in the Kingdom, except for the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. However, on March 19, Saudi Arabia announced that “prayers have been temporarily cancelled in the courtyards at the Grand Mosque [in Makkah] and the Prophet’s Mosque [in Madinah] as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.”

In Palestine, the Islamic Waqf which oversees holy sites in Jerusalem has announced that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock will close to worshippers, adding that outdoor prayers will still be allowed at the complex that houses Islam’s third holiest site.

Authorities in Kuwait cancelled communal prayers on March 14, with mosques across the country broadcasting an altered call to prayer telling believers to “pray in your homes.”

Iraq’s most influential Shia scholar, Grand Ayatullah Ali al-Sistani, urged people to abide by a ban on mass prayers. In Lebanon, Jum’ah prayers have been temporarily suspended in all Shia mosques. And the country’s top Sunni authority has said it is forbidden for anyone with a contagious disease to attend prayers and has urged elderly people and those with weakened immune systems to pray at home.

Qatar announced suspending congregational prayers in mosques beginning March 17 as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country jumped to 439.

Away from the Middle East, mosques in Malaysia ceased all activities for 10 days amid a sharp rise in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, the de facto minister in charge of religious affairs said on March 16.

Malaysia warned of a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections if people did not follow two-week movement restrictions after cases in the country spiked to the highest in Southeast Asia. It has so far reported two Covid-19 deaths, including a man who attended a mass Muslim gathering linked to nearly two-thirds of the country’s 673 infections. Thousands of the attendees remain to be tested, raising the risk of an even greater spread of the virus.

On March 16 Singapore’s Islamic Religious Council announced all the country’s mosques will remain closed until March 26.

Turkey suspended collective mosque prayers on March 16 until further notice. Head of Turkey’s religious affairs authority, Ali Erbas, said, “It is necessary to suspend collective prayers at mosques for a period.” Around 90,000 mosques will, however, remain open to individuals who wish to pray individually.

Many mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina were widely disinfected. By March 17, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country rose to 38 on after the Federation and Serb Republic entities registered a total of four new cases, local media reported. The Bosnian Minister of Security, Fahrudin Radoncic, banned entry to the country for nationals coming from areas with the highest number of Covid-19 cases.

Algeria temporarily closed all mosques. Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments, Youcef Belmehdi, announced the decision on March 17. Algeria has reported four deaths from Covid-19 and 48 confirmed cases, mostly of people who recently visited Europe.

Some mosques in South Africa’s tourism city of Cape Town will temporarily close their doors to worshipers in a bid to curtail the spread of Covid-19 that has infected 62 people in the country. The Imam of Masjidul Quds in Cape Town, Sheikh Abdurahmaan Alexander, said the mosque would temporarily close beginning March 17.



NOTICE: This story was written last week, prior to the UK Government announcement of a nation-wide lockdown.

Muslim schools top England’s GCSE value-added ranking

Photo: For the fourth consecutive year Tauheedul Islam Girls High School is the county’s top school for progress (Credit: Courtesy of TIGHS)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Three Muslim schools occupied the top three positions in the nationwide GCSE and equivalent Progress 8 (P8) ranking by the Department for Education (DfE).

P8 measures the grade development that pupils make between primary and secondary school. It is a type of value-added measure, which means that pupilsresults are compared to the actual achievements of other pupils with similar prior attainment.

Remarkably, nine of the thirteen state-funded Muslim schools which entered their students for GCSE’s exams last year made the top 20 list.

For the fourth consecutive year, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School in Blackburn is ranked the highest in the country for results by students with low prior achievement at primary school.

Tauheedul achieved a P8 score of +2.16 – the highest value-added score in the country, meaning pupils attending the school could expect to achieve on average over two GCSE grades better per subject than pupils who were at a similar level at the age of 11.

Tauheedul is followed by Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham (P8 score of +1.69) and Eden Girls’ School, Coventry (+1.61) all three are run by Star Academies and all were rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Sumeya Bhikhu, Principal of Eden Girls’ School, Coventry, told The Muslim News, “We are delighted with our place in this year’s league table which is testimony to the wonderful work going on in our school.”

Preston Muslim Girls High School also made the top 10 P8 rankings. The school’s Headteacher, Mufti Javid, told The Muslim News, ‘This year sees us breaking into the Top 10 Schools listings for the first time. I am delighted that the school has been able to maintain and even improve upon the exceptionally high standards which we have set ourselves for several years. This is a tribute to the superb work ethic of our school; to our dedicated pupils and our outstanding team of highly motivated staff.

Two further Star Academies schools also ranked in the top 14 schools nationally. Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest and Eden Girls’ School, Slough, both achieved the same high ranking score of +1.19.

Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, Chief Executive of Star Academies, praised the schools’ exceptional achievements. “We are immensely proud of our people at Star Academies who continue to work hard to improve the life chances of our pupils.

The progress our pupils make is testimony not only to their hard work, but also to the determination and dedication of our teachers, support staff and our pupils parents,” he told The Muslim News in a statement.
“We are delighted by these results and hope to be able to continue to build on this success next year,” Patel added.

Bradford-based Feversham Academy also made the top 20 P8 rankings with a score of +1.12. Principal Sajida Muneer told The Muslim News, “The dedication of our students, staff and parents ensured that students at Feversham Academy continue to achieve outstanding results, and performed very strongly when compared to both local and national figures.

Of the 95 Muslim schools (18 mixed, 33 boys and 44 girls.) that entered students for GCSE and equivalent exams, last year are, 82 are independent meaning their P8 results are not published by the DfE. Nevertheless, Muslim schools have also excelled in other indicators including Attainment 8 which measures the achievement of a pupil across eight different subjects.

The eight qualifications include English, Maths, 3 English Baccalaureate qualifications, including sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages, and 3 other additional approved qualifications.

Fifty-nine of Muslim schools featured (62 per cent) attained a higher Attainment 8 pass rates than the national average, according to an exclusive analysis by The Muslim News. On average, Muslim schools achieved an Attainment 8 score of 60.8, notably higher than the national average of 46.7.

Among Muslim schools, Al-Burhan Grammar School in Birmingham scored the highest Attainment 8 score (76.9); the ten girls who sat the exam achieved a Grade 5 or above in both English and Maths.

Speaking to The Muslim News Al-Burhan’s Head Teacher, Dr Mohammad Nasrullah, said, “We are immensely proud of our girls who were motivated and determined and as a result have all been able to follow their chosen pathways into further education. We feel that this is a direct result of the hard work and dedication shown by the students, parents and staff at Al-Burhan and we hope to continue this success with our 2020 GCSE results.


Muslim schools: 2019 GCSE and equivalent exam results


When is and when isn’t a Nikah recognised in English law?

Sahil Aggarwal, Family Law specialist, Moore Blatch

Most Muslims in England who get married will tie the knot in a Nikah ceremony; one of the key steps of a marriage arrangement. However, in a highly publicised case, the Appeal Court has ruled that Islamic marriages are invalid in England.

This overturned a previous ruling where the High Court ruled that the marriage of Ms Akhter and Mr Khan — which had lasted 18 years — was ‘void’, meaning the couple could sort out their finances in much the same way as any other couple that had been married.

However, the Appeal Court’s judgement — that their marriage was invalid — means that after nearly two decades together Ms Akhter and Mr Khan will be treated in much the same way as two friends who had shared a home. In English law, their Nikah has not been recognised.

For Muslim couples living in England, the Nikah is central to their marriage; the place where their marriage becomes official. So, what does this latest ruling mean for couples based in England who have had an Islamic marriage or intend to have a Nikah?

Strangely, how you are treated under English law can vary according to where your marriage takes place. This is because if marriage is recognised as legal in the country in which it took place, it has the potential to be recognised as legal in England too. Therefore, a Nikah carried out in Pakistan in accordance with their customs and procedures can be recognised as a valid marriage in England.

However, the same cannot be said for a Nikah carried out here as a Nikah doesn’t comply with all the procedures necessary in England to be recognised as legally valid.

The case of Ms Akhter and Mr Khan offers a good example of how things can go wrong. The couple were married in an Islamic ceremony in 1998 following which they intended to have a civil ceremony that would have been recognised under English law. Despite repeated requests from Ms Akhter, Mr Khan refused to carry out the civil ceremony.

The couple went on to have four children together, though eventually, Ms Akhter petitioned for a divorce. Discovering that, despite being with her husband for 18 years and having a family with him, her marriage was considered invalid must have come as a dreadful shock.

This case demonstrates the importance of understanding your rights if you intend to have a religious marriage in England as well as the consequences of not following up your wedding with a civil ceremony. For women especially, a lack of legal protection following the break-down of a relationship can have life-changing consequences.

Those who oppose the recognition of religious marriages in England say that recognising religious marriages here could blur the lines between what is and isn’t legally valid. One solution could be to require all religious ceremonies, including the Nikah, to be followed up by a civil ceremony, therefore, aligning the Nikah with Christian and Jewish weddings.

This option could respect both the traditions and customs of all religious unions whilst also recognising the necessity of drawing a line between what is legally valid and what isn’t.

Of course, no one wants to think their marriage will come to an end. The sad truth is that some do. A civil ceremony provides both spouses with legal protection which ensures that, if the marriage does come to an end, both parties are treated fairly and that the financially weaker spouse — often the woman — is not left in financial difficulty.


PM told to sack minister who called for moving British embassy to Jerusalem

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick (Credit:Stuart Graham/Wiki-Commons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Pro-Palestinian campaigners have called on the Prime Minster to sack his Communities Secretary for publicly voicing support for moving the British embassy to Jerusalem in “direct defiance” of international law and UK policy. Boris Johnson’s office was forced to distance itself by saying it has “no plans” to move its embassy from Tel Aviv following comments by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick.

Jenrick told attendees at a Conservative Friends of Israel reception that he would “look forward to the day” when Britain’s embassy will be “moved to Jerusalem”. Speaking at the parliamentary event on January 28, the Minister added he was told by an ambassador that “we have a patch of land in Jerusalem that has been waiting for our embassy for some time.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called on Johnson to sack Jenrick. A spokesman for the PSC told The Muslim News Jenrick’s comments are in “direct defiance of the stated UK Government policy and of international law.” Adding, “Boris Johnson needs to make clear that no minister who openly advocates for law-breaking is fit to serve in Government.”

The annual event was attended by some 100 parliamentarians, including former Chancellor Sajid Javid, Conservative Chairman James Cleverly and Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev.

While the US, relocated its Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in May 2018, the UK has not suggested any plans to follow in its footsteps. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was rejected by a majority of world leaders.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on December 7, 2017, where 14 out of 15 members condemned Trump’s decision. Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan were among the countries who criticized Trump’s decision at the emergency meeting.

The Jewish Chronicle reported how ‘to loud applause at the packed gathering’, Jenrick said, “As Housing Secretary I don’t like land-banking. I want us to build that embassy.” Javid declared the Government’s “unwavering support” for Israel and said “every minister thinks carefully about what they can do to strengthen that relationship.”

It’s not the first time Jenrick has voiced pro-Israel sentiment. Jenrick has pledged to come down hard on local councils and universities that fail to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. Speaking to the British Board of Deputies on September 15, 2019, Jenrick vowed to pursue supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

He said he will come down heavily on both local councils and universities that did not adopt the IHRA definition, which has been the source of controversy in the UK. Critics say the definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and undermines free speech.

Jenrick dismissed these concerns. He insisted that the “suggestions that the IHRA definition curtails legitimate criticism of the Israeli government is wrong and must be countered.” A Government spokesperson told The Muslim News: “The British Embassy in Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.”

Hindus and Muslims dine to unite

(Photo courtesy of FMO’s Suleman Nagdi)

Harun Nasrullah

Members of the Hindu and Muslim communities will dine together as part of a new charity designed scheme to build friendships and understanding between the faith groups. Leicester-based interfaith charity, St Philip’s Centre, is launching ‘Come Dine Together’, scheme modelled on the Channel 4’s ‘Come Dine with Me’ which sees strangers eating together and getting to know one another.

The scheme, which started on February 1, coincided with the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, a period which allows faith groups to become aware of each other by building ties as well as being a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognise that the common values they hold, far outweigh the differences they have.

20 Hindu families who are paired with Muslim families, will host each other.
“We are all the same and the only difference is that we have different religions and cultures which make us unique. We are welcoming people from a different faith into our home to introduce them to our world and for us to learn about their religion and perspectives on life,” said Nafeesa Katib, a Muslim who is welcoming a Hindu family into her home.

Her Hindu counterpart Nima Suchak said, “It has always been important for me to have friends of all faiths and backgrounds. I’m very grateful to the St Philip’s Centre for this initiative to bring us together as families and for us all to realise that we are stronger and better together.”

Riaz Ravat, Deputy Director of St Philip’s Centre, said, “The currency of interfaith work is food. This vital need will form the basis of this important piece of work to initiate and harness friendships between Hindu and Muslim families who have never met before. We cannot be complacent about good community relations, and our hope is that these families continue to flourish their friendships in the long term.”

Suleman Nagdi, spokesperson from the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said “It’s a simple act but eating together presents a perfect opportunity for us to teach, share and show that we care for one another – and to build a stronger, more accepting city in the process”.

Misleading ‘grooming gangs’ narrative demonising Muslims

Hamed Chapman

The misleading claim of ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ has become a dangerous media narrative around child exploitation that is harming community relations in the UK, according to a new report, Failing victims, fuelling hate: challenging the harms of the ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ narrative.

Such a dominant narrative has become a defining feature of the British media, political and public debate to explain a series of horrific cases, but is “misleading, sensationalist and has in itself promoted a number of harms.”

In a joint paper, Dr Ella Cockbain, Associate Professor at UCL in the Department of Security and Crime Science and Dr Waqas Tufail, Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, examines how racist framings of ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ exist not only in extremist, far-right fringes but in the mainstream, liberal discourses too.

“The involvement of supposedly feminist and liberal actors and the promotion of pseudoscientific ‘research’ have lent a veneer of legitimacy to essentialist, Orientalist stereotypes of Muslim men, the demonisation of whole communities and demands for collective responsibility,” they argue.
They note in their recent paper that the narrative has been produced, maintained, and propagated by a range of actors, including “liberal actors and the promotion of pseudoscientific ‘research’” that is fundamentally flawed.

Over the past decade, a so-called ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ narrative has become established in popular and political discourse, including claims of how Muslim culture and faith supposedly perpetuate sexual abuse that collectively demonise British Muslim communities, especially young Muslim men.
Much of the narrative has centred around towns in the North and Midlands regions of England, where many high-profile criminal convictions have taken place. Rotherham, in South Yorkshire, has arguably become the place most synonymous with ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ and has attracted the most attention from far-right groups.

The central argument of the ‘grooming gangs’ narrative is that a ‘disproportionate’ number of Asian/Muslim/Pakistani-heritage men are involved in grooming (mostly) white British girls for organised sexual abuse. These claims are often substantiated with reference to a spate of high-profile prosecutions of ‘grooming gangs’ in towns and cities such as Rotherham, Rochdale, Derby, Telford, Oxford, Huddersfield and Newcastle.

The ‘grooming gangs’ narrative belongs within a broader tendency to racialise the crime in political and popular discourse. The authors give the classic example is the racialised panic in 1970s Britain in which young black men were cast as ‘muggers’. Fuelled by misleading statistics and misinformation, the devastating consequences included over-policing and criminalisation.

The racialisation of ‘grooming gangs’ must also be understood in the context of a long history of racialised and gendered Islamophobia, or anti-Muslim racism, they argue. Muslim men have been stereotyped as both religiously fanatical and prone to committing violent, sexual acts motivated by a patriarchal, misogynistic culture and backward, barbaric religion.

Looking back over more than a decade, the authors document the architects of the ‘grooming gangs’ narrative, examine the political backdrop to it and consider the harms it causes. They also sketch out tangible ways forward, with implications for policy-makers, practitioners and activists. They contend that genuinely practised anti-racist feminism is vital in tackling child sexual abuse and resisting anti-Muslim forces.

The authors in no way want to detract from the absolutely horrific crimes that have been in no doubt committed, nor to the grotesque harm or excuse the inexcusable but point out the ‘grooming gangs’ term is “itself a spurious media construct and one that has been heavily racialised from the very start.”
‘Grooming gangs’ simply do not correspond to established legal or social scientific categories and the various weak definitions offered up by proponents of this racialised narrative fail to delineate these offenders meaningfully from other groups of child sex offenders.

“Contrary to stereotypes, there is no ‘grooming’ offence’ – let alone a ‘grooming gangs’ offence; consequently, ‘grooming gang offenders’ cannot be sensibly disentangled from police recorded crime data or prosecution data.”

Editorial: ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ narrative deliberately pernicious


Harrow Central Mosque donates £11k to hospital

Harrow Central Mosque reps hand cheque to London North West Healthcare Charity
(Courtesy of Harrow Central Mosque)

Nadine Osman

Members of Harrow’s Muslim community showed their appreciation for the work of Northwick Park Hospital by generously donating £11,000.

Representatives from Harrow Central Mosque, including its founder Mohammed Ilyas, handed a cheque to London North West Healthcare Charity and staff on the Chaucer ward on January 7.

The money will be spent on sensory and communications equipment for children with special needs and their families. The service provides physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for more than 2,000 children and young people with learning and developmental needs across Harrow.

Chair Nasir Bashir Warsi said it is imperative the Muslim community “engages with the wider community and show it’s kindness to improving local much-needed services in and around Harrow.

The generosity of Harrow Muslim community is evident from the size of a donation and we hope this continues.”

Jaqueline Docherty, Chief Executive of London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “It’s great to have the support of the mosque given our large Muslim community, and we hope this is the start of a great relationship.”


UK Govt’s £1K fee to register children citizens unlawful

Nadine Osman

A Government decision to charge £1,012 to register children as UK citizens was “unlawful”, the High Court ruled last month.

The fee applies to children born outside the UK, and those born in the UK before their parents were granted citizenship or settled status.

Delivering the ruling judge Justice Jay said the Home Office “failed to have regard to the best interests” of children affected. The Home Office said it would consider the ruling’s implications “carefully.”

Young people currently face a £1,012 registration fee before they can formally become British citizens – despite applications costing the Home Office £372 to process. Fees have risen since 2011, and the cost of registering two children has more than tripled due to fee increases and the abolition of second child discounts.The last increase resulted in the charge increasing from £973 to the current £1,012 fee in April 2018.

Campaigners accused the Government of “shamelessly profiteering” and said the “landmark ruling” could help tens of thousands of children growing up in the UK gain citizenship.

Justice Jay said the evidence during the hearing had shown that “for a substantial number of children, a fee of £1,012 is simply unaffordable.”

He said this made the children affected “feel alienated, excluded, isolated, second-best, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the United Kingdom.”

Johnson backs Trump after US assassinates Iranian General

 Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s Deputy Chief of the Popular Mobilisation Committee, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (Credit: Hossein Velayati/Farsi News Commons)

Hamed Chapman

In his first public comment since the US assassination of Iranian military leader, General Qassem Soleimani, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, endorsed the killing and within days reversed British policy to support President Donald Trump’s attempt to sabotage the international Iranian nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The General of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was assassinated along with Iraq’s Deputy Chief of the Popular Mobilisation Committee, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a gratuitous American drone strike at Baghdad International Airport, which Trump boasted that he had personally ordered.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, described the state assassination as an “act of international terrorism” and that the US bears “responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.” Soleimani, he said, was “the most effective force fighting terrorist groups, Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qa’ida et al.”

“Soleimani’s martyrdom will make Iran more decisive to resist America’s expansionism and to defend our Islamic values. With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge,” a statement from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also said.

Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, said that the assassinations were an act of “aggression” against his country and a “massive breach of sovereignty.” Soleimani, who he said he was due to meet, was on a “peace mission” to discuss a diplomatic rapprochement that Iraq was brokering between Iran and Saudi Arabia at the request of Trump.

In a non-binding resolution, which the Prime Minister supported, Iraq’s Parliament called on the Government to expel foreign troops from the country and end the agreement with Washington to station 5,000 US troops there, which Abdul-Mahdi also supported.

There was a worldwide condemnation of the killings, even US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who said Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox”, while fellow Democratic hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders warned the assassinations could spark a disastrous new war in the Middle East.

There was no initial response in Britain from Johnson until he returned from holiday when he dodged questions during Prime Minister’s question time about the legality of the US killings, but claimed that “most reasonable people,” would think the operation was justified.

Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, warned the US attack had greatly destabilised the region and challenged Johnson if he had any evidence the assassinations were legal when accusing him of being “unable to stand up to President Trump” because of his need for a swift post-Brexit trade deal with Washington.

In an extraordinary U-turn by the British Prime Minister, Johnson went from signing a joint statement with France and Germany calling for the retention and restoration of the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA) to calling for it to be scrapped and replaced by a ‘Trump deal.’
In an interview with the BBC, the British premier said he recognised the US concerns the 2015 deal was “flawed” but there had to be a way of stopping Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “If we’re going to get rid of it then we need a replacement, let’s replace it with the Trump deal.”

In a retort to the assassinations, Iran eventually responded in what was described as a ‘carefully measured’ way by carrying out token missile strikes on two US airbases in Iraq but with a warning so no one would be killed. It, however, coincided with a tragic accidental shooting down of Ukraine passenger plane at Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport killing all 176 people on board.

13 year old and TV chef among 28 Muslim named in the New Year’s Honours

Elham Asaad Buaras

Twenty-eight members of the Muslim community have been named in the New Year’s Honours, among them a TV chef, a thirteen-year-old fundraiser, several academics as well as a community cricket activist.

Overall, 9 per cent of those honoured come from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, including 29 (2 CBEs, 6 OBEs, 12 MBEs and 9 BEMs) members of the Hindu and Sikh communities. Over half of the recipients in the New Year’s Honours List are women, including 44 per cent of awards at the highest levels.

Ibrahim ‘Ibby’ Yousaf, 13, is the youngest person in the country named in the list. Ibby was amongst those recognised with a BEM, for his fundraising for eleven charities in Oldham. They include Oldham Food Aid, Dr Kershaw’s Hospice and Maggie’s Cancer Support. Ibby rallies fundraising efforts, finding sponsors and organising fundraising events, and also donates all the money he gets given for his birthday, pocket money or Eid.

His efforts are all the more remarkable because Ibby suffers a serious health condition and requires frequent visits to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. “I am in absolute shock and overwhelmed that I have been given this honour,” said Ibby.

Ali Akbor, Chief Executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, spoke of his pride at being awarded an OBE. Akbor, who joined unity in 1999, was honoured for services to the community in Leeds. In a statement to The Muslim News, he said he was “deeply humbled” by the award, adding, “I regard it as recognition for the work that unity staff and board members – past and present – have done over more than three decades.”

Safet Vukalić is honoured with the OBE in recognition for his work on genocide education. Vukalić is a Bosnian a survivor of a massacre in Prijedor and has been working closely with Remembering Srebrenica and the Holocaust Memorial Trust for many years. Last year, Vukalić spoke about the importance of sharing his story and said, “I want my daughters to be proud of what their father did, no matter how small, to help educate people about the consequences of hatred, ignorance, and inaction. No one should go through what happened to me.”

Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray will receive an OBE for her services to education and the Muslim community in the UK. She has worked to promote the study of Islam for over 25 years. This has included research on the work of Muslim chaplains, the history of Muslim communities in Cardiff, and the religious education of Muslim children. She is currently the Chair of the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group and former chair of the Muslims in Britain Research Network.

“I feel very honoured to have received this recognition. I would like to thank those who nominated me, and the many colleagues and friends who have supported my work over the years. I am especially indebted to those British Muslim communities which have been so generous in their encouragement and support and have been a continual source of inspiration,” she told The Muslim News.

Another Muslim academic to be recognised is Dr Adeela Ahmed Shafi, Reader in Education at the University of Gloucestershire who is to be made an MBE for her services to social justice in Bristol. Shafi has driven important initiatives as a social activist in Bristol for the last thirteen years, specifically within the Pakistani community.

She was elected as General Secretary for the Pakistan Association Bristol in 2007 and then Governor for the oversight of PAB. She is the current chair of the Avon and Somerset Police Constabulary’s Police Scrutiny Panel, engaging with the Police Crime Commissioner, Councillors and Representative groups, and working to ensure that the Police are held to account. She has an impressive publishing profile. She is engaged in research on academic resilience and is currently leading on a book entitled ‘Reconceptualising Resilience in Education.’

Top row: Ibrahim Yousaf BEM and Ali Akbor OBE. Centre row: Shabir Beg OBE, Subnum Hariff-Khan BEM and Parveen Hassan MBE. Bottom Row: Nadiya Hussain MBE, Afzal Pradhan BEM & Prof Sophie Gilliat-Ray OBE

She told The Muslim News, “It is a tremendous honour to be recognised and very humbling. All the work I have done has been working with so many fantastic people, many of whom may not feel they have a voice or who feel marginalised. I am grateful that they give me the chance to work with them and so this MBE is for them too.”

TV chef Nadiya Hussain, 35, has said she wishes her grandparents were alive to see her awarded an MBE. Born in Luton to a Bangladeshi family Hussain, won the Great British Bake Off in 2015, has been honoured for her services to broadcasting and the culinary arts. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would ever happen to me,” said Hussain.

Chair of Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, Shabir Beg, is to be made an OBE for his services to Interfaith Relations in Glasgow. A retired market trader, Beg is deeply involved in engagement with civil society organisations and the third sector; academic institutions; diplomatic and governmental bodies; and faith leaders. Among his primary focuses are interfaith and intrafaith dialogue across religions and faith denominations to promote understanding.

Parveen Hassan, Inclusion and Community Engagement Manager, Crown Prosecution Service, is to be made an MBE for services to community engagement, inclusion, and equality. Hassan led the first West Midlands Local Criminal Justice Board Conference on forced marriage and went on to chair the Asian Women Domestic Violence Forum. She has led substantial community engagement projects to raise awareness about domestic abuse, forced marriage and so-called honour-based abuse and being part of a
Community Scrutiny Panel, which produced a protocol on domestic violence.

She told The Muslim News, “Muslims play a crucial role and make positive contributions to the economy and society. As a British Muslim and of Bangladeshi origin, it gives me great pride to be recognised on the New Year’s Honours.”

Another recipient of an MBE is the Senior Advisor to the Mayor of London, Nadeem Javaid, who is to be awarded for his services to community cohesion and young people. Javaid, a public affairs professional and grassroots campaigner, told The Muslim News, “This is such an amazing honour, and a wonderful surprise. The honour may have my name on it but, it’s one I share with all the communities that I have worked with and who have taught me so much, as well as with all the amazing people I get to work alongside.”

Afzal Pradhan has been awarded the BEM, in recognition of his work as a volunteer cricketer and services to cricket during the men’s cricket world cup last year, where he took part in multiple areas as a volunteer interviewer, a volunteer facilitator and a team leader.

Since the Cricket World Cup, he has been working with UEFA as a volunteer interviewer in preparation of the Euro2020 this year. He is currently preparing for his own homeless project ‘Hand on Heart’ and providing 450 Winter Warmer Packs to rough sleepers in London. He told The Muslim News, “If I can inspire just one person, regardless of age, to give up their time and volunteers in the community, then this accolade has been worthwhile.”

Greater Manchester Libraries’ Culture Lead, Subnum Hariff-Khan, from Bolton, has also picked up a BEM for her services to public libraries. Hariff-Khan has played a huge role in involving the community in the work of the region’s libraries, including campaigns to involve young people in their design and attract more volunteers. She has also devised and delivered training to Mosque teachers on the importance of creativity and leadership and was a driving force behind the UK’s first volunteer-led Islamic lending library in Bolton. “I am very blessed and humbled by the honour.

This award truly belongs to all those that have and continue to support me in my career and to all the amazing staff and communities that I work with,” she told The Muslim News.

British Muslims in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list


Nusseibeh Saker, CEO and Head of Investment at Hermes Fund Managers, for services to responsible business and to the financial sector.


Abdel Ghayoum Babiker, Professor Of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, University College London, for services to medical research.

Ali Akbor, CEO Unity Housing Association, for services to the community in Leeds

Dr Zahid Mehmood Chauhan, for services to homeless people.

Prof Sophie Gilliat-Ray, for services to education and to the Muslim community in the UK.

Sabah Gilani, CEO, Better Community Business Network, for services to young people and to the Muslim community.

Safet Vukalić, for services to genocide education.

Shabir Beg, Chair, Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, for services to interfaith relations in Glasgow.

Taalay Ahmad Qudsi Rasheed, Head of Sanctions Unit and Deputy Director Multilateral Policy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for services to British foreign policy.


Arif Hussain, for services to the Muslim community in the UK and abroad.

Aziza Chaudry, Quality Manager, Adult Education Wolverhampton, for services to education.

Dr Adeela Ahmed Shafi, Reader in Education, University Of Gloucestershire, for services to social justice in Bristol.

Maksud Ahmed Gangat, Director of Education, Al Risalah Education Trust, for services to the Muslim community and interfaith in South London.

Mete Coban, Founder and Chief Executive, My Life My Say, for services to young people

Mohamed Ashraf Ali, Head of Projects, British Muslim Heritage Centre, for services to community relations.

Mohammad Saqib Bhatti, Lately President, Greater Birmingham Chamber Of Commerce, for services to diversity and inclusion in business communities.

Mohammed Tariq Rafique, For services to the community in Greater Manchester.

Mumtaz Ali, Work Coach, Sparkhill Jobcentre Plus, Department for Work and Pensions, for services to disadvantaged customers in Birmingham.

Nadeem Hassan Javaid, For services to community cohesion and young people.

Nadiya Hussain, For services to broadcasting and the culinary arts.

Parveen Hassan, Inclusion and Community Engagement Manager, Crown Prosecution Service, for services to community engagement, inclusion and equality.

Yusuf Patel, Community Engagement Coordinator, Redbridge Borough Council, for services to the community in Greater Manchester.


Afzal Pradhan, Volunteer Cricketeer, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, for services to cricket

Ali Abdi, for voluntary service to the BAME community in Cardiff.

Ibrahim Yousaf, for charity fundraising in Greater Manchester.

Nadia Rehman Khan, Co-Founder, The Delicate Mind, for services to mental health and integration in London and Birmingham.

Subnum Hariff-Khan, Chair of Libraries Connected NW Regional Group, for services to Public Libraries.

Yashmin Harun, for services to female BAME representation in sport


Exclusive: Performance of Muslim candidates

Elected candidates are in colour | * Newly elected candidate
Compiled by Elham A Buaras | Copyright 2019 The Muslim News.

Somaliland immigrant tops most influential black people list

(Photo credit: World Remit Flickr Commons)

Harun Nasruallah

A Somaliland immigrant has topped an annual list of the 100 most powerful people of African, African-Caribbean and African-American heritage in Britain.

Ismail Ahmed, the founder of pioneering money transfer firm WorldRemit which he set up in 2010 using compensation from the UN for exposing alleged corruption, topped this year’s Powerlist ahead of ‘grime’ artist Stormzy, the Duchess of Sussex and the footballer Raheem Sterling.

Ahmed, who grew up in the autonomous region of Somaliland, a breakaway territory that declared independence from Somalia in 1991, became interested in the money transfer industry after realising how many people relied on it.

In 1988, Ahmed left to study in London. He sent some of the money back to relatives living in a refugee camp. He then helped to run a money transfer project as part of the UN Development Programme, aiming to make a positive difference in a sector worth £545 billion and vulnerable to crime.

But Ahmed discovered alleged corruption in the UN’s Somalia remittance programme.

“My boss said if I went and submitted the dossier, I would never be able to work in remittances again. I lost my job to uncover fraud.” In February 2010 he received £200,000 in compensation from the UN for the way he had been treated after making allegations, the money he used to fund the launch of WorldRemit.

Having left the UN, Ahmed set about realising his ambition to start a mobile money transfer business. “While I was fighting for [my case] at the UN, I was also studying at the London Business School.”

During this time, he came up with a business plan for WorldRemit. It would offer a service for migrant workers to send money to countries across the world using just a smartphone and app. The service would cut out the agents needed to deal out the money.

Using a smartphone app, the service charges customers, a nominal fee and cuts out agents who formerly took a cut of the money. Michael Eboda, the Powerlist 2020 publisher, said: “Ismail is a true pioneer whose company is shaking up the remittance industry and positively impacting the lives of people around the world. His story is incredibly powerful and an inspiration to us all.”

A panel chaired by retired high court judge Dame Linda Dobbs selected the 13th Powerlist this year. It is designed to celebrate those at the top of a wide range of industries including business, science, technology and the arts.

Erdoğan opens Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque in Cambridge

(Photo:Mehmet Ali Özcan/Anadolu Agency)

Hamed Chapman

During a visit to Britain to attend a two-day NATO summit, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took time out to officially open Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque in Cambridge.

Inaugurating the new Cambridge Central Mosque, Erdoğan said its building would be the “best response to rising Islamophobia.” It has become “the symbol of solidarity against discrimination from the first-moment (and) will, God willing, continue to be the centre of unity, conversation and peace in the future.”

“Islam is a religion of peace,” he said, whilst condemning those who abuse the religion as an adjective to describe terrorism. Underlining that racism, discrimination, antisemitism and hostility towards Islam have recently increased in Europe, he said far-right movements are mostly targeting Muslims and the Turkish community.

“The last European Parliament elections have once again demonstrated that identity politics is becoming increasingly dominant in Europe,” the Turkish President argued, adding that the media and some politicians have deepened these prejudices with their irresponsible statements.

The road to building the first purpose-built mosque to cater to Cambridge’s diverse community of up to six thousand Muslim inhabitants began back in 2008 when students turned to Professor Timothy Winter, known as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, the dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, who was instrumental in getting the land.

The design, which includes natural materials, is to boast a zero-carbon footprint using solar power, recycling rain collected from the roof for irrigation and windows fitted on the ceiling of the dome-shaped mosque to take advantage of natural light.

Also in attendance was Yusuf Islam, a founding patron of the mosque that prides itself on sustainability. More than 10,000 people and groups were reported to have donated money for the landmark purchase, with prominent Turkish groups and the Qatar National Fund also among the major donors.


Pakistani organisations’ chief wins Scottish diversity award

Nadine Osman

One of the leading figures in the Network of Pakistani Organisations has been named Diversity Hero Of The Year.

Raza Sadiq, the Network of Pakistani Organisations Scotland Chair, received the prestigious accolade in front of 400 guests gathered for the ceremony, organised by the Herald and GenAnalytics in Glasgow on October 10.

The event showcased the companies, organisations and individuals across Scotland making a difference to their communities and workplaces by putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of what they do.

Sadiq is chair of the Active Life Club in Glasgow, which has used diverse sports as a medium to bring communities and service providers together.

He said: “This award was very emotional for me because it’s the area I have been trying to tackle for over 20 years. Being among those who have suffered challenges and inequalities and those who have worked to tackle them made me feel very honoured.

“Inequality is a lifetime challenge and this award is recognition for all the hard work and it gives me and others encouragement to go on fighting and challenging on behalf of those who are not able to themselves.”

Sadiq has been committed to fostering better community relations for over two decades.
He has used community development models to inspire others to become equality champions, acting as change-makers and advocates in promoting fairness for all.

103 Muslim Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

The 15 Muslim MPs hoping to hold their seats joined by 88 other Muslim candidates
(Credit: Beta.parliament/Commons)

A comprehensive list compiled exclusively by The Muslim News of 103 Muslim Muslim Prospective Parliamentary Candidates contesting seats in the 2019 General Election, which are due to take place on December 12.


Muslim MPs (1992-2017)

Poll predictions are made using the Electoral calculus Ltd. Probability predictions were made on November 21 and are subject to poll changes and fluctuation. If you know of a Muslim candidate omitted from the list please email info@muslim

Key: * E (Elected MP & year of election) | * R (Replacing retiring MP)
Click on table to enlarge

Break-down of Muslim Prospective Parliamentary Candidates



Year Con Lab Lib Dem TOTAL BY YEAR
2019 22 33 17 72
2017 9 24 14 47
2015 19 22 24 65
2010 15 16 21 52
2005 16 13 21 50
2001 8 7 11 26
1997 6 3 4 13
1992 4 0 1 5
Total 99 118 113 330



Party No

Independent (IND) 10

Brexit Party (BRE) 8

Green Party (GRE) 6

Communities United Party (CUP) 2

Plaid Cymru Party (PC) 1

UK Independence Party (UKIP) 1

Renew Party (REN) 1

Animal Welfare Party (AWP) 1

Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) 1



MEN (69%)
WOMEN (31%)














Muslim poet wins two international competitions

Fathima Zahra recites her winning poem at the prestigious Bridport Prize
(Credit: Rachel Brown/Bridport Prize)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A young Muslim poet has won two international writing competitions, topping almost 4,000 other entries in one of them. Fathima Zahra from Essex scooped first prize in the prestigious Bridport Prize in August and the Wells Festival of Literature which ran from October 18 – 26.

Zahra won the festival’s Young Poets title for her poem ‘Thirteen’ she came in first place out of 65 entries; she followed the win with The Bridport Poetry Prize with the poem ‘Things I wish I could trade my headscarf for.’

Speaking to The Muslim News Zahra said, “Alhamdulillah, it’s been an amazing weekend. When I first found out I won the Bridport Prize in August, I could not believe it for a long time. I had only ended up sending my poem last minute to the competition when I found out Hollie McNish was judging because I was a fan of her authenticity in her work.”

“I thought if there was ever a chance my poem made it to the longlist and she gets to read it, that would make me very happy. Winning this and the Young Poets Prize at the Wells Festival of Literature was beyond my expectations.”
Kate Wilson, Programme Manager for The Bridport Prize, told The Muslim News,

“We had 3,911 submissions to the poetry award this year. For the overall competition (which includes short stories, flash fiction and first novel categories) we had over 10,000 submissions from 86 countries.”

Explaining why she selected Zahra’s poem ‘Thirteen’ to win the festival’s Young Poet’s prize, renowned Scottish poet and performer Miriam Nash said she was drawn to the poem’s “short lines, explosive images and energy.”

In a statement to The Muslim News Nash said, “I was there, feeling thirteen with lighter fluid and electric-blue eyeliner. These images are widely relatable, but the poem is also highly specific (‘an all-girls’ school in Jeddah). This root the poem in a very real world so that when the turn comes, it’s all the more devastating. Suddenly we’re in a syntax of negatives: ‘I wasn’t/back in India’, ‘Didn’t know/what octave to raise my/voice to.’”

“This is a brilliant storytelling device. The thirteen-year-old is still thirteen, still living in the negative, before the knowing, but the speaker isn’t allowed to stay there and nor are we. We know how her innocence ends, how it keeps ending, how it has ended for centuries.”The science student was born in India and raised in the Middle East before she moved to the UK. Her poems span her “lived experiences across these countries and the different ways I am perceived in each.”

Zahra’s work has been featured across BBC World News, The New Indian Express and Young Poets Network. She is also a Roundhouse Poetry Collective alumnus and was a runner up in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam final last year.

In her writing, she explores the lives of the diaspora, identity and belonging. She has been short-listed for the Outspoken Poetry Prize 2019 and the Women Poet’s Prize 2018 (Rebecca Swift Foundation). Her debut pamphlet Datepalm Ghazals comes out with Burning Eye Books in 2020.

100 Muslim scholars say adoption and fostering is a ‘communal obligation’

[Image by Creative Commons]


Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Alison Halford

The Government does not record the religion of children in care but according to our research at Coventry University there around 4,500 Muslim children in the care system in Britain.

These Muslim children experience significant delays in finding long-term fostering or adoptive placements, and for some Muslim children, finding a permanent home may never happen. This is mainly due to significantly fewer black and minority ethnic families coming forward to adopt or foster.

Adoption and fostering – a taboo within the Muslim community?

Our research shows that theological misunderstandings are one of the reasons that British Muslims do not adopt or foster. Meryam (pseudonym) said that when she was adopting, “her mother and mother-in-law were both told by religiously informed friends that adoption is haram (or forbidden) in Islam.” Meryam encountered a misunderstanding that is prevalent in some Muslim communities.

Foster carers described similar challenges. Halima (pseudonym) said that her family stopped inviting her and her family to social occasions after she had started fostering. Abdullah (pseudonym) said that “negative attitudes to fostering were cultural rather than Islamic” and that they had led to “fostering an unrelated child being considered taboo.” Whereas Islam encouraged him to “place his hand of care on the vulnerable child’s head”, Muslim culture discouraged him.

What do Muslim scholars say about adoption and fostering?

60 Muslim British Muslim scholars from diverse denominations and traditions including Sunni, Shia, Deobandi and Barelvi came together to examine the theology around adoption and fostering. After carefully studying the contemporary British system of adoption and fostering and taking advice from social work professionals they produced a 27-page document entitled, ‘Islamic Guidance on the

Contemporary Practice of Adoption and Fostering in the UK.’ In this document, the scholars collectively conclude that “Muslim communities have an ethical duty to ensure that homeless and parentless children have guardians and families to look after them. The matter can thus be defined, according to Islamic Law, as a ‘communal obligation’ (Wājib ʿalā alKifāyah)”.

Crucially the scholars also state that “If the Muslim community as a whole fails to fulfil a ‘communal obligation’ then the whole community can be considered blameworthy.”

The guidelines produced by the scholars has been endorsed by nearly 100 Muslim scholars (The list is available online.) and therefore clarifies the enormity of the responsibility that lies on British Muslim communities to care for these most vulnerable of children. The full guidance is available to download here:

Theological issue to consider

Here we summarise the scholars’ conclusions. There are different religious considerations in adoption and fostering.

In adoption, there are specific issues around establishing mahram relationships within adoptive families; protecting an adopted child’s biological lineage, and; an adopted child inheriting from its adoptive parents.

Mahram may be understood as unmarriageable family kin with whom strict modesty is not required.

A common solution to establish mahram relations is through feeding an adoptive child the breastmilk of its adoptive mother or a close female relation – such as the adoptive mother’s sister. Where breastmilk is fed to a child this should be done under medical supervision to prevent the spread blood-borne diseases and to protect the health of the adoptive mother.

Yet this is not always advisable, possible or indeed even needed – the scholars have advised that in adoption where a child has been intimately taken care of my its adoptive parents from a very young age, mahram relations come into play automatically and that it is not always necessary to lactate.

In relation to preserving the biological lineage of a child, the scholars were convinced that the British social work practice of life story work ensures that the child knows about his or her biological family and that he or she is adopted.

There is a debate about changing the surname of the child, again in their guidance document the scholars advised that it is okay to change the surname of the child as surnames do not have the same function that they did historically and in a social-media age it was important to protect the identity of the child. Finally, on inheritance, it is possible for adoptive parents to bequeath up to a third of their wealth to their child/ren.

The case of fostering is different from adoption and here theological scholars and practitioners need to work with foster carers to arrive at a different set of solutions. For example, as the demands and conditions of a foster placement are different, Islamic modesty guidelines are easier to navigate.

Safeguarding policy in foster placements are as stringent as Islamic modesty guidelines, and they often are in agreement with each other, which makes Islamic modesty guidelines easier to manage in fostering placements. Issues around biological lineage and inheritance are not relevant to fostering.

All children need families

The children in care are the most vulnerable in our societies. They may not be orphans but, they do not have families who can care for them and love them.

The Qur’an and the Sunnah (living by the habitual practice of Prophet Muhammad) insist that we care for a vulnerable child. Muslim scholars confirm that it is a communal obligation to care for these children.

Isn’t it then high time that we — British Muslim communities — came forward to do what we can for these children? And give them loving and secure homes and families that they deserve.


Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor
Assistant Prof, Research Group Lead – Faith; Peaceful relations, CTPSR,
Coventry University,

Alison Halford
Project Research Assistant; PhD Candidate, CTPSR, Coventry University

Founder of contemporary Palestinian art wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr Swee Ang,  Co-Founder and Patron of British Charity Medical Aid for Palestinians awards Nabil Anani the Lifetime Achievement Award at the eightieth Palestine Book Awards (Credit: Middle East Monitor)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Founder of the contemporary Palestinian art movement, Nabil Anani, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the eightieth Palestine Book Awards (PBA) held in London on November 1.

Nominations for the prestigious awards – hosted and sponsored by the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) – start every January with submissions from publishers across the world. A total of 43 English language books were entered in this year’s competition with seven having been shortlisted by a panel of expert judges.

Anani, 76, received the award for Nabil Anani: Palestine, Land and People homage to a distinguished Palestinian artist in addition to the collective memories of Palestinians and the Palestinian homeland.

After his graduations in 1969 from the faculty of Fine Arts at Alexandria University, Anani returned to Palestine to start his career as an artist and trainer at the UN training college in Ramallah. He held his first exhibition in Jerusalem in 1972 and has since exhibited widely in Europe, North America, the Middle East, North Africa and Japan.

He was appointed in 1998 as the head of the League of Palestinian Artists and was a key player to establish the first International Academy of Art international academy of Fine Art in Palestine. Anani was also awarded the first Palestinian National Prize for Visual Art in 1997 by Yasser Arafat the first President of the Palestinian National Authority.

“I want to thank everyone who supported this book, I want to thank MEMO for organising this night,” said Anani who was presented his award by Dr Swee Ang, Orthopaedic Consultant and co-Founder and Patron of British Charity Medical Aid for Palestinians.
“The book addresses how I began painting and drawing half a century ago,” said Anani.

Dr Hosam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, awarded Andrew Ross for his book Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel which this year was named the Social History Award winner.

The book is a unique take on the Israeli occupation concerning Palestine’s stones and indigenous stone industry and the establishment of another country. Zomlot joked that the Palestinian Ambassador was giving an award to a non Palestinian who is working hard for Palestinian rights.

The evening was opened by PBA judge Alan Waddams, who thanked guests for attending an event that celebrated important contributions to Palestinian literature.

“One thing is clear, nothing gets better…anywhere, especially not in Palestine,” Waddams remarked, noting the developments over the past year, in particular, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel against international law, in addition to the expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank with continued killings, dispossession and injustice faced by the Palestinian people.

In spite of these setbacks, Waddams continued, “The Palestinians never give up as each year we are able to enjoy fresh insights in literature and academia, which in this current age of Trump and fake news, it is more important than ever to collect the truth and to keep up the Palestinian struggle.”

Palestinian American human rights attorney and winner of Academic Award, Noura Erakat gave the keynote address highlighting the vast movements ranging from Puerto Rico and Hawaii to Sudan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Moving onto the besieged Gaza Strip, Erakat reminded the audience that this week will be the 81st week of protests demanding the right to return for refugees and ultimately freedom.

Erakat won for her book Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine which explores the role of international law in the struggle for Palestinian national liberation.

Croydon Mosque design shortlisted at architects award

Croydon Mosque’ prayer wing (Credit: Courtesy of Benedict O’Looney Architects)

Harun Nasrullah

Croydon Mosque’ has been shortlisted for the Community & Faith Project Category at prestigious Architects Journal Architecture Awards.’

The mosque has been shortlisted for the design of its newly opened women’s and children’s wings at their site in Croydon, South London.

This project is the third phase in the development of this mosque site and was designed by the Peckham-based, Benedict O’Looney Architects, working closely with the Croydon Mosque Committee. This recent project follows the same architect’s completion of new prayer rooms and minarets for the Peckham Mosque.

At the heart of this project is a double-height prayer room on the upper two floors.

This bright day-lit space is framed in exposed laminated timber in harmony with the building’s welcoming & low energy design. New top-lit men’s bathing areas to the ground level of this wing create a second route to the mosque’s main prayer hall.
Externally, the new wing uses traditional tiled arches and colourfully banded brickwork from Sussex and Surrey brickworks.

A significant part of the project was the completion of Britain’s longest tiled Quranic frieze in Arabic script, formed in glazed terracotta. The frieze is 50 feet long and 6 feet tall.This Quranic frieze was made by local ceramicist Lubna Chowdhary.

The new wing’s lift shaft forms the base of an eye-catching new minaret topped with a hand-made zinc dome covered in gold leaf. This new wing takes inspiration from traditional Ottoman and Mughal Islāmic architecture and references London’s brick civic architecture from the Arts & Crafts period.

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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